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    How can the sun still shine?

    The haftarah for Ekev opens with Zion declaring, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me” (Isa. 49:14).

    There are times when we all echo these words. Things go wrong and we feel God has abandoned us.

    We cry – but the world doesn’t cry with us. When we cry, how can the sun still shine? How can the world continue on its path?

    Everything has stopped for us; everything should stop everywhere.

    I have never forgotten the day of my late mother’s funeral.

    I was a teenager, and losing my mother was the most devastating thing that had ever happened to me.

    We sat in the car on the way to the cemetery and couldn’t understand how the whole world hadn’t gone dark.

    The streets were full of people doing their own thing. The shops were open, the buses were running, the birds were flying. No-one was crying except us.

    God was probably still there, but as far as we were concerned He had let us down.

    It took me a long while to come to terms with that day’s dilemma.

    What actually helped me was an Anzac Day march of war veterans in the streets of Sydney.

    There was I, a military chaplain, looking proud but weeping inwardly for the lives that were lost, the dreams and hopes that never came true.

    I felt for every one of those veterans. Their war was over, but I knew they were all suffering.

    The march culminated in a solemn service of commemoration.

    And then? Suddenly the spell was broken. The pubs opened and they all rushed off for a beer.

    I thought at first, “Such a tragedy, and how can anyone now simply go off for a drink?”

    Then there was a flash of understanding and I knew the answer to that day’s question, and to the question on the day of the funeral.

    The world cannot stop. Life must continue. When we are ready we move back to it.

    The difference is that now we have a cause to which to dedicate ourselves.

    The cause is memory, with a message: be nicer, better, more loving.

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